Those were the words of Ed Reed at the end of the Jacksonville beat down on Sunday. 305 is, of course, the phone area code for the Miami. Back to the sun and fun of South Florida, back to the site of the last Ravens’ post season win, in January 2002. 7 years….Hard to believe, isn’t it?
As many predicted, the Jacksonville Jaguars put up token resistance to the Ravens on Sunday and the game was all but over by half time. Of course by then, I was into full scoreboard-watching mode. Knowing the Patriots had already won earlier, I was anxiously hoping the Dolphins would win their game against the Jets so the Ravens would avoid a visit to the friendly confines (not!) of Foxborough Stadium. I have great respect for the Patriots at home, but even greater respect for the New England weather in early January. But thanks to the Dolphins and some surprising ineptitude by Brett “The Gunslinger” Favre, the Ravens had their ticket punched to South Beach. A great win, and a great finish in front of a raucous home crowd. Here are my Studs and Duds for the week.
Joe Flacco had one of his best days as a pro. He had 246 yards passing at half time and only the fact that John Harbaugh pulled his starters in the 4th quarter prevented his 1st 300 yard game. Didn’t matter. He was in complete control and the running game was working.
Wide Receivers: The Ravens’ wide outs made some really great catches. Mark Clayton made an acrobatic catch of Flacco’s first long ball that I thought was uncatchable, and Derrick (Move Those Chains!) Mason was his usual reliable self. Props to Mason, by the way, for going over 10,000 receiving yards in his career. I can easily see his name in the Ring of Honor in a couple of years.
Defense: Another complete effort. Maurice Jones-Drew gave the Ravens a bit of trouble early on, but except for the blown coverage that led to the Jaguars first and only touchdown, the “D” would have thrown a shutout.
Season Long Dudes – A long overdue nod to John Harbaugh, Cam Cameron, Rex Ryan, and Jerry Rosburg. What a staff. They keep the team focused on the game at hand, every week. The crying, whining, and flag-throwing are gone. A tough training camp has this team primed and ready for the post season. It’s team first, second, and third, and look how it’s paid off.
Ed Reed: Two more picks, and now you’re a legitimate candidate for Defensive Player of the Year. But, Dude….what’s with the laterals?
Penalties: The defense had two major personal fouls, one for unsportsmanlike conduct. No harm done in this match, but how would you like the Ravens to give up 30 uncontested yards to the Titans or the Steelers in a playoff game?
Predictions – Wildcard Weekend Edition
Atlanta Falcons at Arizona Cardinals (+2.5): The only frauds in the league that are bigger than the Cards are the Dallas Doughboys. Arizona’s performance in New England was disgraceful. I don’t care if they’re playing at home; they’re soft and beatable. The Birds of Prey will cover and win.
Falcons 27, Cardinals 23.
Indianapolis Colts at Sand Diego Chargers (+1.5): The Chargers may be surging, but they haven’t played anybody this good. Playing in Southern California is the same as playing in a dome to Peyton Manning, and he’ll get the same results. Indy has the defense to go with the offense, and the Chargers have nothing for Number 18.
The Colts to roll the Bolts, 31-20.
Philadelphia Eagles at Minnesota Vikings (+3): The Ravens did Donovan McNabb and Andy Reid a huge favor in the M&T Bank beat down. It woke everybody up and now the Iggles are rolling. The Philly defense will give Tavares Jackson some purple bruises to match the purple in his uniform. Get those cheese steaks ready.
Eagles 27, Vikings 13.
Baltimore Ravens at Miami Dolphins (+3): The Ravens have long figured out the Wild Cat offense and the Fins have no answers for the Ravens D, which will again be ferocious on Sunday. Joe Flacco seems to thrive on the road and is playing much better – and smarter – than in the October game. Willis (it’s all about me) McGahee will finally put up some long overdue, big numbers his hometown.
Two other things stand out for me. Road games mean nothing to the Ravens, and they’ve essentially been in playoff mode for two weeks, winning 2 absolute, must games against the Cowboys and Jaguars.
It will continue this Sunday, as those Ravens fans in attendance can work on their tans watching South Beach Smack Down II.
Ravens 28, Dolphins 10.
Happy New Year, Happy Festivus!
Fran the Fan